Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: M Is Also For Money

During April, I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z challenge -- one alphabet-themed post per day, starting with A is for Aruba Aftermath and ending with Z is for ... I don't know yet what Z is for, I'll figure it out when I get there.

Well, if you're gonna dream, dream BIG! (image from here)
I've written before about our cost of living afloat.  We live pretty well on $2500 per month, not that that is a very challenging budget for two adults. But a few times, even with that seemingly generous budget, we've also put some big chunks on credit cards.  We're smart enough to know better, really! Surprisingly, smart people are even more likely than people of ordinary intelligence to fall into this trap, according to a recent article in the BBC.

It's not like we built that debt on high living.  Ever since getting out of grad school with $30K in credit card debt, we've had policies for what we're willing to go into debt for, and there are only 3 categories.

Health and Safety: Whether the car needs new snow tires, or Dan needs brain surgery, some things won't wait.  And we tended to interpret that definition broadly; new anchor chain and physical therapy both qualified.

Things that will increase in value: Our educations, and real estate, both fit in this category.

Truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences: In other words, things that couldn't be postponed. We flew to the Virgin Islands for the turn of the millenium, and flew to Aruba to see a total eclipse of the sun, the last of the 20th century.  When my mom was dying of cancer, I ran up insane phone bills talking to her every morning that I couldn't be there in person, as well as lots of frequent flyer miles between Denver and New York.  Weddings?  Grandchildren or godchildren being born?  Like the Mastercard commercial says, some memories are priceless.

Still, somehow, those not-paid-off balances have trickled up in the last year.  Combination of an unexpected huge expense to replace the whole-house air conditioning system in our rental house (In Phoenix, Arizona. At the beginning of summer.), and the extensive boat work we did in Oriental, NC, put us into the red.  Yesterday, April 15, when the rest of the US was lamenting income tax day, we saw our refund arrive electronically in our checking account.  Today, it went out again, along with a small debt-consolidation loan.  Looks like we're going to keep a low profile for a while until we're back in balance.  Um, unless some other once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes up?  That seems to happen often with the spontaneity of our life afloat!

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